Vince Cable’s contribution at PMQ’s today was a classic:
“This House has noted the Prime Minister’s remarkable transformation from Stalin to Mr Bean in the past few weeks.”
Curtsies to Vanderleun for that one (as his local source for distant newspaper content, I suppose he decided to leave it to me).
The magic of Mr Bean has always been lost on me. Rowan Atkinson is without doubt a very clever, skilled comic actor. But that hapless, accident-prone character which made him so much money is, to my eye, chronically unfunny. In the light of today’s gag at PMQ’s by Vince Cable that Gordon Brown is starting to resemble not so much Stalin as Mr Bean, there might be a need for a reappraisal of Atkinson’s work. Here is Mr Bean meeting the Queen. Does he remind anyone of Gordon Brown?
Actually I can’t stand Mr Bean either. I don’t necessarily disapprove of him, I just can’t take watching him. At all.
But wait — is being Bean such a bad thing to be? Isn’t he, like it or not, an emblem of Mr Brown’s central political theme: Britishness?
Yes, his defining trait is ineptness, as played by the silent laureate of awkwardness, Rowan Atkinson. Personally, I find Mr Bean so unfunny he makes me feel a bit sick, the quality the novelist Will Self referred to when he said: “Mr Bean has always struck me as profoundly disturbing: a portrait of a mentally handicapped man struggling with the alienated, modern world.”
Only Mr Brown’s harshest critics would agree with that, but of course the Bean comparison refers not so much to the political bungles of recent weeks, but the Prime Minister’s social clumsiness. As Atkinson said of his character, he “has a slightly alien aspect to him”.
Yet this is also what international audiences find so amusing about Mr Bean, so endearing, and ultimately, so British. More than 14 million of his videos have been sold, and his latest film, released earlier this year, was number one in 21 countries, top of the international box office. He is a premium British export; his appeal transcends race or religion.
Well, maybe Brown will do better on a speaking tour, cuz he’s doing worse than Bush is (33%) at being PM (23%) (Curtsy: Vanderleun for that tidbit too).
What great self-confidence it shows in our nation, that we are assured enough to have others laugh at us like this. As Mr Bean knows, it is the Mini drivers who are the real men, not those that storm around the world in Humvees. He is modest, yet wildly successful. Wouldn’t Mr Brown want a bit of that? Or at least, it’s a better legacy than a Russian genocidal maniac.
Well, when you put it that way!